On a quiet Wednesday before the holiday break, an e-mail was sent to Condé Nast publishers and editors, revealing a few structural changes to the company’s public relations department. P.r. directors and assistants will now report to editors and publishers at respective titles, instead of resident company voice and troubleshooter Maurie Perl, senior vice president corporate communications and chief communications officer. Perl will continue to be the company’s chief spokeswoman and will be available to assist brands when needed. But the change reflects the company’s new aim of allowing each publication to manage its own business.

In late October, chief executive officer Chuck Townsend sent out a memorable memo along the same lines, noting that Condé Nast Digital’s responsibilities would shrink and publishers would get full control of ad sales for their respective titles’ digital properties. Clearly, these changes aren’t along the magnitude of the usual “January surprise” that many within the company speculate about weeks in advance, but perhaps it’s a signal of changes to come.

This story first appeared in the December 23, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

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